Vladimir Putin is attempting “some form of legitimacy” in Ukraine by holding “faux elections” to justify his invasion, the Foreign Office minister warned.
James Cleverly told Sky News’ Kay Burley the Russian president wanted a “lightning war” to capture Ukraine and quickly install a puppet government, but “that is clearly not working”.
In its morning intelligence update, the Ministry of Defence said reports have suggested Russia may seek to stage a referendum in the captured Ukrainian town of Kherson in an attempt to legitimise the area as a “breakaway republic” – similar to Donbas and Crimea.
It also said Russian forces reportedly fired warning shots at peaceful protesters in Kherson on Monday.
Mr Cleverly added: “It’s now quite obvious that Vladimir Putin and the Russian military are attempting some form of legitimacy or justification for their military actions.
“The UK is completely clear: Ukraine is a sovereign territory. They have a right to protect their own borders.
“A faux election to try and justify Russia’s aggression to Ukraine will be recognised for exactly what it is. And that is a fake.
“And what we are calling upon Russia to do, what we are calling on Putin to do, is to end this war and end it immediately.”